Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division in Norco, California, recently designed a low-cost, mass-producible portable medical oxygen manifold for Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton for the COVID-19 response.
The device – designed in a matter of hours at the request of Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (CLR-15) Marines – features multiple flow rate valves and eight outputs, allowing medical staff to simultaneously provide oxygen to eight patients from a single oxygen cylinder. One day after the request, the Marines had the design in hand and parts available for order to readily augment the medical stockpile for the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton stabilization ward, should the hospital need to utilize the ward in the event of a patient overflow.
“With the pandemic going on, it’s important for the Navy and Marine Corps to stick together as a team to accomplish these kinds of tasks or missions,” said Gunnery Sgt. Reuben Ramirez, a Marine assigned to the 1st Supply Battalion under CLR-15.
“When we presented the Navy with our request, they were very responsive and quick to act," Ramirez said. "The Navy and Marine Corps are putting lots of material resources into this response; this is us physically standing up.
"We're standing tall together, showing the nation we’re here and ready – one team, one fight – and we’re ready to accomplish the mission and ensure the safety of our folks.”
In its current design, 20 of the portable medical oxygen manifolds can be produced for about $375, with little to no lag time in production and assembly. To put those figures into perspective, 160 COVID-19 patients at a time could benefit from the devices for only a few hundred dollars invested.
“It’s important to have a selection of viable solutions available at all times,” said Dr. Ryan Olsen, chief scientist for NSWC Corona’s expeditionary systems engineering division. “This is a fast, viable and inexpensive solution.”
Across the globe, medical respiratory devices have claimed their place as critical medical components for treating many coronavirus patients. Those components are in short supply in many countries as the pandemic continues. The Navy and Marine Corps’ focus on all facets of readiness, operational and otherwise, have led the services to continue advanced planning and preparation efforts for the unexpected.
“In a crisis, you don’t have a month to find a solution,” said Olsen. “There’s not a lot of warning and not a lot of time to respond, but it still requires a good engineering solution. Those good solutions are something we strive for in all the work we do.”
The design for the oxygen manifold prototype was born following a thorough analysis of additive, subtractive and reverse engineering options by the NSWC Corona Expeditionary Solution Cell (ESC), a team of engineers and scientists developing rapid engineering solutions to Navy and Marine Corps challenges. The team designed the manifolds by pairing computer-aided design software with engineering technology and readily available parts.
The team reverse-engineered existing manifold hardware, shopped the internet and supply chains for readily-available, commercial on-the-shelf parts and leveraged specs from open sources as they developed the manifold using computer-aided design technology.
NSWC Corona recently provided similar support to California Rehabilitation Center – Norco, for which it designed 3-D printed face shields for prison staff that could help slow or reduce the spread of COVID-19 and augment personal protective equipment stockpiles if needed.
While additive manufacturing has not traditionally served as a primary focus for the command, it is a niche that has provided the integrated warfighter with improved capabilities and real, tangible results for training and operations at home and abroad. Additional solutions recently developed for the Marine Corps by the NSWC Corona ESC include explosive breaching charges, shock coil canisters, ammunition counting boards and ordnance training aids.